Last week we looked at how to build partnerships with business. Today I want to focus on creating stronger partnerships for after-school programs. In order to achieve global competence, young people need access to a variety of global learning experiences. No single school or after-school program can do it alone. Partnerships between after-school programs, schools, and communities are essential to preparing youth for future success.
Mapping the Community
Within every community, no matter its size or location, there are connections to other parts of the world. These connections can create starting points for exploring the world, as well as resources that can support global learning after school.
One way to get started is to create a mapping project for youth to survey their community. Support your students as they identify key cultural and international assets in your community that can help them relate to the wider world. Help them see connections between local and global realities, and learn about the many nuances of identity and culture. Youth can organize the information they collect by mapping these assets geographically and listing the specific resources that are available.
Engaging Youth in Developing Partnerships
Young people can play a critical role in interacting with partners around global learning. Involving youth in conversations with current and potential partners can make relationships with stakeholders more successful. It builds young people’s sense of ownership in their program while helping them develop global competence by building their skills in communication and collaboration, among others.
Once the relationship is established, there are many ways for youth to take the lead in learning from—and with—your partners. In Milledgeville, Georgia, the High Achievers Program has incorporated a global learning focus by creating a unique structure for partnerships, programming, and staffing that engages youth as global learners and global educators year round. During the afterschool program, high-school aged youth learn about different countries and cultures linked to current events in the U.S. and their community. Through a partnership with the Peace Corps, these students participate in the Peace Corps World Wise Schools curriculum and Skype with Peace Corps volunteers living abroad. Students compare what they are learning about global issues with issues that affect them in their community. Then, the high school youth are hired to serve as camp counselors for younger students, ages 6-12, who attend globally themed camps held over spring break and during the summer. During the Global Spring Break Camp, high school youth help their younger peers explore a different country each day, while during the Global Summer Camps, students explore a different country each week.
The High Achievers program relies on strong community partnerships for its success. In addition to the partnership with the national Peace Corps, the program works closely with the Georgia College and State University at Milledgeville. College interns gain required experiential learning hours by working with the high school students throughout the year to identify global topics, issues, and examples that the students then research and convert into activities for the spring break and summer camps for younger children. International faculty and students from the college visit the program throughout the year to talk about their native cultures as well.
Building Stronger Business Ties
Rethink existing business partnerships for opportunities to support global learning. For example, you may work with a local business that provides a small amount in funding to your program each year. While a financial contribution is welcome, the relationship could provide an opportunity to involve businesspeople from the company. They could act as guest speakers who lead workshops about their experiences visiting and/or working in other countries, or mentors who can help youth understand how their local business is connected to the global economy.
In addition to providing opportunities for your business partner to become more closely connected to youth in your program and the community, their involvement helps educate a future local workforce familiar with the company and the countries where the company works.
What is good for youth is also good for their community. Community partnerships that help students become globally competent can also help them become highly skilled workers, active citizens, and well-informed participants in your community—and in today’s globalized world.
The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.